September 1, 2014

DIY (Do It Yourself) RTW Ticket Review

In the latest version of the Around the World Airfare Report, we shopped prices for RTW plane tickets from nine different companies and rated each company based on three criteria:

  • Price: How much does it cost?
  • Service speed: How long does it take to get a bookable price?
  • Frustration factor: How frustrating is the process of building and pricing a multi-stop route?

Note: Keep in mind that we searched these flights all at once. In a typical Round the World scenario, the traveler would be booking flights as he or she went, and we all know how prices fluctuate, so use this only as a guide. We also only searched Kayak, so there could be better deals to be had on smaller, regional airlines that Kayak doesn’t cover.


Here is how the cost of searching all one-way flights on Kayak compared to other companies for each of the three routes we searched:

  • Route 1: Lowest price out of 9 options
  • Route 2: 2nd lowest price out of 7 options
  • Route 3: 2nd lowest price out of 5 options

Service speed

Here is how the speed of searches compared to other companies we searched.

  • Route 1: 5th fastest out of 8
  • Route 2: 2nd fastest out of 7
  • Route 3: 2nd fastest out of 5

Note: This is not an accurate comparison to a real searching scenario for long-term travelers, as most who choose this option for their airfare want flexibility and don’t want to search and book all their flights in advance. In most cases, travelers will be doing these searches while on the road, possibly with their own computer in a hostel or maybe in an internet cafe, where internet speeds will vary. Keep that in mind when making your decision.

Frustration Factor

This option obviously provides the most flexibility in terms of route and dates because the traveler ultimately decides when he or she wants to book. The main downfall is that if you wait too long, the price could go up dramatically. But on the flip side, you can also find last minute deals.

Choosing this method gives you the ultimate flexibility in routes. But it pays to do some research before leaving. For example, getting from South America to Southeast Asia or Australasia can be complicated and expensive even when you do it on your own, so it pays to know ahead of time which routes/destinations may be pricey.

If you have used the Do It Yourself method for your round the world trip, we want to hear from you. Leave a review below in the comments.

DIY (Do It Yourself) RTW Ticket Review
  • Overall
  • Price
  • Customer Service
  • Date Flexibility
  • Route Flexibility
  • Search Options

7 Responses to DIY (Do It Yourself) RTW Ticket Review

  1. says:

    I haven’t booked it yet, but I’m looking to fly one-way from Paris to Auckland, sometime around fall 2014 maybe, doing stopovers in Iceland, NYC, YQM (Moncton, Canada), San Francisco, Hawaii (2 islands), Fiji & Western Samoa for just under 2300 USD.

    1st ticket: CDG-KEF on FI [1 week free stopover] KEF-NYC on FI [one week $40 stopover] NYC-Canada preferably on WS/AA —or even PD or AC (FI interline partners)— for 672,30 $US

    2nd ticket: YUL-SJC on AA [free fare-break stopover] SJC-LIH [$75 stopover] LIH-HNL on AA for 638,40 $US

    4th ticket: HNL-APW [stopover] APW-NAN [stopover] NAN-AKL on FJ for 955,60 $US

    IMO, when you plan to travel for more than one year or go to places that are not flown to by major airlines, DIY is the best.

    Apart from the 2 Icelandair flights, it can be all done on AA or partner airlines. When maximizing the routing to get the best CPM, one can earn a bit more than 12000 AAdvantage Miles.

  2. says:

    I don’t really get this. It seems like the entry requirements for nearly 100% of destinations these days require a return or onward flight in order to be allowed into the country in the first place. I know that all entry requirements are different but I honestly haven’t come across a destination yet where you don’t need to have a return or onward flight to gain entry. How can you remain so flexible if this is the case? Am I missing something? I’m currently trying to plan a RTW and would prefer the DIY route but how can you do it if you always seem to need a return or onward flight to enter a country?

    • says:

      Ryan, it really depends on the situation when it comes to onward travel. During our RTW trip (2008-2009), we were only asked for proof of onward travel twice. Once was leaving the US to go to Peru and the other was when we flew through the US to go to New Zealand.

      For Peru, we used a little trick that may or may not work. It really depends on a variety of factors. We basically just went to a site like Expedia, searched for a one-way flight out of Peru, navigated as though we were going to buy it, then copied and pasted the itinerary (with flight numbers, our names, etc. but before we actually purchased them) into a word doc, and voila, an onward ticket.

      Now you have to hope in this situation that the agent at the desk when you are checking in doesn’t actually check that flight to make sure you are scheduled to be on it. I honestly have no idea if they ever do that.

      The other instance, when flying from the US to New Zealand, we were required to show proof of onward travel, and luckily we had already booked a flight leaving the country, so we were fine there. We knew we were going to SE Asia afterwards, had found a great deal a couple weeks prior, so we bought it. If we hadn’t, we probably would have employed the same tactic as above.

      This is just one way of getting around this situation, and it honestly just depends on the airline and the countries you’re flying in and out of. Sometimes they’ll ask; sometimes they won’t. But there are plenty of people taking RTW trips right now using only one-ways.

  3. says:

    I made my own RTW itinerary on my year-long adventure. In my opinion DIY is the only way to go. You have complete flexibility on timing and destinations. When I left on my trip I only had a one-way ticket from Los Angeles to Bangkok. From there the world was open to me and I ended up going to many destinations I hadn’t considered (or had never even heard of!) before I left home. In the end I spent a little over $3k on 12 flights and saw four continents.

    • says:

      Would you mind sharing your RWT itinerary. it sounds like you had a great trip at a reasonable price.

      Thank you. Sarah

  4. says:

    On your next RTW trip, I am sure you’ll use again the DIY, it’s much cheaper in reality and once you get past Kayak and use good search engines available in other countries, it really gets much cheaper. On our trip we fly a lot and I only bought the first 25 legs on our trip. So far it is for less then $4000. Airtreks quoted me a double price for much less mileage. so if you have the guts to use a credit card online and the price matters, there is no real competition.

  5. says:

    We used DIY for your RTW trip, and while it was cheaper than expected (this was during 2008-2009 when airfare was plummeting), we still largely stuck to the same itinerary that we had mapped out before we left. We did add in New Zealand, which was not a definite before taking off, so that was nice to have the flexibility. But since we were on such a tight budget, we were constantly on the lookout for the best deals, which meant we spent A LOT of time searching for airfare while we were traveling. On our next RTW trip, we will definitely look more seriously into a RTW ticket. We may still go with the same DIY option, but it would be nice not to have to spend so much time searching for airfare.

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